Trail laying during tandem-running recruitment in the ant Temnothorax albipennis
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Tandem running is a recruitment strategy whereby one ant leads a single naïve nest mate to a resource. While tandem running progresses towards the goal, the leader ant and the follower ant maintain contact mainly by tactile signals. In this paper, we investigated whether they also deposit chemical signals on the ground during tandem running. We filmed tandem-running ants and analysed the position of the gasters of leaders and followers. Our results show that leader ants are more likely to press their gasters down to the substrate compared to follower ants, single ants and transporter ants. Forward tandem-run leaders (those moving towards a new nest site) performed such trail-marking procedures three times more often than reverse tandem leaders (those moving towards an old nest site). That leader ants marked the trails more often during forward tandem runs may suggest that it is more important to maintain the bond with the follower ant on forward tandem runs than on reverse tandem runs. Marked trails on the ground may serve as a safety line that improves both the efficiency of tandem runs and their completion rates.
KeywordsNavigation Communication Landmark Pheromone Tandem running Temnothorax albipennis
NB would like to thank The Ministry of Higher Education, Malaysia for sponsoring her study in the Ant Lab, University of Bristol. We wish to thank members of the Ant Lab, University of Bristol for their comments. The authors are grateful to Bert Hölldobler and the two anonymous reviewers for their very helpful comments on an earlier version of the manuscript.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
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